The historical hanging yard of the Thane jail in Maharashtra where many luminaries of the freedom struggle were hanged to death will soon be opened for the public. The spruced-up execution yard, which is being renovated under the district plan development fund, will be ready by Diwali.
It will have a separate entrance from the Kalwa side that will be managed by the jail police, said Jail superintendent Harshad Ahirrao.
Amongst the prominent figures to be executed were Anant Kanhere, Krishnaji Karve and Vinayak Deshpande who conspired and murdered British officer A M T Jackson at Nashik on April 19, 1910.
There are also plans to start a light and sound show here, said Thane district collector Rajesh Narvekar who has sanctioned nearly Rs 2.5 crore for the beautification and maintenance of the area around the yard.
Thane MLA Sanjay Kelkar and the district collector on Saturday paid tributes to the freedom fighters who were either incarcerated or hanged at the prison as part of the 75th anniversary of India’s Independence. The jail is spread over 43 acres and the barracks are over 12 acres. They also took a tour of the historical site.
A mute spectator to the nationalist movement, the yard, and its mechanisms are fully functional even now. It has the facility to hang three persons at a time. The body after the execution falls into the water underneath and it can be retrieved.
Raghoji Bhangra, a tribal freedom fighter was the first one to be hanged at Thane Central prison. One Peshwa Sardar, Trimbak Dingle had also escaped from the prison, which was once a fort.
The Thane fort is constructed over 42 acres and was taken over by Maratha warrior Chimaji Appa on March 19, 1737 from the Portuguese and later by the British in 1774.
The British converted it into a jail in 1838 and made it a district jail in 1857. After independence, the government made it into a central prison in 1972.
The jail has a gate which opened to a creek (now filled up) through which freedom fighter Vinayak Damodar Savarkar aka Veer Savarkar was taken to Andaman and revolutionary Vasudeo Balwant Phadke was transported to Aden in Yemen for solitary confinement. It also had a tunnel to the Tahsildar office constructed by Britishers to escape in times of emergency.
Sanjay Kelkar has also proposed to set up a vertical jail for prisoners. The prison currently has 4,800 inmates against the sanctioned strength of 1,105. “Many from the present generation in Thane and Mumbai don’t know about the freedom struggle and this initiative is mainly to make them aware about the freedom fighters who were housed in Thane jail and those who were hanged here.”